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Fri, Mar 07, 2003

Mooney's Lineup Meets Expanded Needs

Mooney Airplane Company has adjusted its product offerings, and in a way that seems to be just what so many pilots have asked for.

Eagle?

Essentially gone from the bottom of the lineup is the Eagle (right). Its 'bare-bones' (for a Mooney) appeal and reduced range just weren't catching on; most customers were 'optioning up' to nearly the level of the Ovation; and the new Ovation 2 line is providing more airplane for a better value, says Mooney's Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Nicolas Chabbert. He seems to be onto something, as sales of the Ovation 2 have picked up nicely, accounting for nearly one sale each week.

Ovation Lineup is Big News

The Ovation line also expanded upmarket, into the Ovation 2 DX model (right). This classy speedster now includes one of the best panels anywhere near its class, along with comfort rivaling the best luxury cars' accoutrements. The Ovation 2 DX (DX = Datalink eXtra) has additional equipment, including leather seats (common to the standard Ovation), extra lighting, Garmin 430 and 530; plus a GTX 330 mode S Transponder; weather uplink capability through its Garmin GDL 49 Nexrad link; hot wiring for Bose headsets in the front seats; an Allied Signal KFC 225 Autopilot ("the world's best autopilot," says Denver-area dealer "Mac" Mc Dowell) and slaved HSI; dual battery; dual alternator, and even dual bus. An oxygen system is optional; about 65-70% do select it.

The standard Ovation doesn't have all these features, allowing buyers to choose their level of options. Compared to the DX model, you'll notice there's no electric trim; no HSI; they've removed the expensive electrically-driven standby vacuum system; and the standard Ovation lacks the inner gear doors (which amounts to about a 2kt cruise penalty). The Ovation doesn't have the Ovation DX's dual alternator, or dual bus; but it does retain dual batteries. All those items, though, can be added with a "premium operational package."

"You can option an Ovation up to a DX, but why would you? For the ten grand difference [between the comparably-equipped standard Ovation and the DX], you'd get a $57,000 autopilot," says 'Mac.'

Mac continued, "What the standard Ovation does, is give you a 190kt (cruise) airplane at a price that's unbelievable (under $300K). Compare it, say to the competition -- it's faster, and costs $50,000 less -- not a bad deal. Plus, you can say, 'gear up!' in the Mooney."

The 192-knot (cruise) of the DX, coupled with its 89 gallons of gas, gives an easy 6.5 hours endurance, yielding 1000+nm range, with NBAA IFR reserves (1 hr, 45 minutes). Mr. Chabbert said, "That's a practical range, not maximum. It's really fantastic, for this class of airplane."

...and the Bravo:

At the top end of the line is the Bravo 2 (right), the best Mooney yet, garnering a respectable number of orders among pilots who like to go fast (218 kts cruise at FL 230), without getting into turbine technology, or multiple engines. "The Bravo is simply the fastest single-engine piston-engined production airplane available today -- or ever," Mac said. "It's for those who just want the best." What's so special about it? Mac said, "I don't have a really good word for the feeling --  it's just a 'muscular' airplane." Huh? "For example, from 14,000 to, say, FL 200, you can cruise climb at 1000 fpm." [Oh... OK.]

Eagle Still Available, Sort Of...

"The Eagle AT," Mr. Chabbert told us, "is still maintained for training contracts." There's less expense involved, for a very capable trainer or rental aircraft. "It has a slightly lighter weight, and carries only 75 gallons." As for the Eagle's (standard) lower horsepower rating: "The great majority of the past 65 Eagles have been modified to get the 260 hp back," Nicolas told us.

In any event, Mooney, looking so sad a year ago, has come a long way; and it looks like it's come back in a big way, too.

FMI: www.mooney.com

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